It’s drought or deluge offensively with this team, and it seems like we can’t keep the offense going for many games in a row before it completely dries out. The 15-2 win was fun, especially after the 16-run game last series, but once again even somewhat-competent pitching and fielding held the Cubs off the scoreboard and the win sheet for the most part. Here come the game recaps.
April 23, 2021
Cubs 15, Brewers 2
WP: Hendricks (1-2) LP: Anderson (2-2)
Phew, this game was blown wide open real quick. The bottom of the 1st inning saw a Kris Bryant double, an Anthony Rizzo double to score Bryant, a Javier Baez single, a pitching change, a David Bote single to score Rizzo, a Jason Heyward walk, a Jake Marisnick double to score Baez, Bote, and Heyward, a Nico Hoerner double to score Marisnick, and then two strikeouts. It was a wild one, putting the Cubs up 6-0 faster than I could’ve written in more detail.
Brewers starter Brett Anderson left the game officially in the 2nd inning after tweaking his knee. His replacement, Josh Lindblom, just couldn’t stop allowing hits. The bottom of the 2nd was just as head-spinning as the 1st, with back-to-back solo homers from Rizzo and Baez, a Bote walk, a Heyward triple to score Bote, a Marisnick RBI, a Hoerner walk…and then Kyle Hendricks struck out for the second inning in a row, ending the fun.
Jake Marisnick had himself a day, with 2 hits (one a solo homer in the 4th inning), 2 runs, and 5 RBIs. The Cubs utility players continue to shine, which is impressive because offensively they seem to almost regularly be better than the starters they occasionally replace. Something to keep an eye on.
Meanwhile, on the defensive end of things, Kyle Hendricks had a solid outing, especially compared to his less-than-stellar last outing. He had 6 strikeouts, 6 hits, 2 runs, and 1 walk. He allowed two back-to-back solo Brewers homers in the 6th, but the Cubs had already run away with the game. The Cubs also assisted by giving Hendricks four insurance runs in the bottom of the inning thanks to two walks, a double, and a three-run Contreras homer.
Even after Hendricks was pulled in the 7th inning, the bullpen did a good job of limiting runs. Together, Kyle Ryan and Dillon Maples combined for 0 runs, only 1 hit, 1 walk, and 3 strikeouts. Other bullpen outings later on in this series would not have numbers this pretty.
April 24, 2021
Cubs 3, Brewers 4
WP: Suter (2-1) LP: Chafin (0-1)
Baez got the day off today as Nico Hoerner makes his season debut at shortstop and Eric Sogard starts at second base. Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain were out for the Brewers, and with Adbert Alzolay starting for the Cubs, it was written on the wall this would be a dicey game on both sides.
The Brewers led off the game with a double and a walk, and the base runners were able to advance to second and third after a lineout in the outfield. However, the Cubs were able to get out of that one-out jam and started producing offensively in the 3rd inning. After a few Cubs singles, Nico Hoerner was able to double to score both Jason Heyward at third base and Eric Sogard at second base, starting to cement himself as one of the few Cubs players that can consistently bat in runners at the moment. Although this series constituted his first three MLB appearances of the year, he has stellar numbers so far: .700 OBP, 1.000 SLG, 1.700 OPS.
The pitchers essentially dueled through the 4th inning. By the 5th inning, Alzolay allowed a double and then a walk on two outs. He got switched out for Rex Brothers, and then it was time for the Cubs bullpen to blow the game. Brothers allowed three straight walks to have the Brewers tie it up 2-2 with two unearned runs.
Brothers was yanked immediately following that inning, which is good because two walks and a hit by pitch on two outs to allow the other team to tie the game should be an unacceptable situation. He was replaced by Brandon Workman, who got out of the inning with no runs added. Andrew Chafin, who up until this game had a respectable 3.24 ERA, pitched the 7th and allowed a two-run homer to give the Brewers the lead. After a fielding error, he was replaced by Tepera who gave up a single but then struck out Jackie Bradley Jr.
Meanwhile, the Cubs couldn’t generate any offense or bat any runners in from scoring position. Jason Heyward was able to solo homer in the 8th inning to put the Cubs within one, and it all came down to the bottom of the 9th inning, where Brewers closer Josh Hader was able to end the game quickly and easily. He walked Hoerner, getting him to first base, and after an egregious strike call by the umpire, David Ross got ejected. Marisnick was obviously elsewhere from a mental standpoint for the rest of the at-bat, as he whiffed on the next two pitches and got struck out. Happ was then struck out, and Willson Conteras, the usual big hitter on the team who went 0 for 4 today, flied out to end the game.
April 25, 2021
Cubs 0, Brewers 6
WP: Woodruff (2-0) LP: Arrieta (3-2)
Arrieta got into a 1st-inning jam that the Cubs couldn’t recover from. He only allowed one run and was able to get out of a dangerous bases-loaded situation, but with Woodruff pitching for the Brewers, the Cubs couldn’t muster up enough offense to even make it an interesting game.
Even after Arrieta’s 1st-inning, 27-pitch blunder, he was pretty good for the rest of the game, getting out of one other jam in the 6th but overall getting 8 strikeouts and allowing no other runs. The bullpen, however, continues to be a weak spot for this Cubs team, as Alec Mills couldn’t find the zone for the life of him, not being able to strike anyone out. He allowed 2 hits and no walks, however, which was enough to keep the Cubs in it, even if their offense didn’t follow through.
Things unraveled quickly in the 9th inning when Adam replaced Mills and gave up a double, two walks, a single and a double back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back. Maples replaced him in a no-out, bases loaded situation and got two strikeouts, but also walked a guy and hit a guy which forced two more runners to score, giving us the final score of the game, 6-0 Brewers.
Additionally, Hoerner looked pretty good this game, being a part of a big double play in the 8th inning and generally playing good defense. He had no hits today, but that is how it went for most of this team. People justified Ross sending him down because he was still young and perhaps not yet ready for the MLB, but he seems plenty ready to me, and injecting a new young player into this team might just be what these guys need to feel more invigorated and maybe try to string together a few more wins in a row.
Next team up in the never-ending barrage of baseball games come the Atlanta Braves and the start of a 7-game road trip for our Cubbies. The Braves continue to not live up to their preseason expectations, as they are still a sub-.500 team who just got trounced today by the Arizona Diamondbacks, allowing the Diamondbacks’ pitcher to get an unofficial 7-inning no-hitter against them. The Diamondbacks blanked them yesterday, too, to the tune of 5-0.
That’s right everyone: the Braves have one (1) singular hit over the past two games. Despite this, the Braves still technically have a better team slash line than the Cubs: .228/.323/.424 vs. .213/.308/.395. This upcoming series will likely be the Battle of Bad Offense, as we will watch to see whose bats will break through first. See you then, unless you’d rather be tuned into late-season hockey, in which case I wouldn’t blame you.